Sunday, December 21, 2008

Grandpa Ray

My Grandpa passed away early this afternoon. Mom had visited him this morning, and, although he was more tired than normal, there was no reason to suspect today above any other day that Grandpa would be going Home. After lunch, the nursing staff was transferring him from wheel chair into his recliner in his room, when he slipped away. No pain, just closed his eyes, and by the time the nurse arrived he was on his way to heaven.

Mom got the phone call from Martin Luther Manor minutes later, and then called me. This was not a phone call I was expecting today. Minutes previous, I’d been cleaning in my office, sorting through papers, finding numerous items to pass back to Mom and Dad to deal with or recycle; as I was sorting, in retrospect at near the exact minute Grandpa died, I noticed a picture of Grandma and Grandpa by my desk, and had taken a minute to look at it, pondering if I could put it someplace more prominent.

We later found out other relatives, too, had been thinking of Grandpa this morning, wrapping presents to ship to him for Christmas, or writing cards, etc. Though our family was not physically at his side when he passed, Grandpa was being thought of all morning.

It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.

That’s a quote from one of the Lemony Snicket books. I think it aptly describes the feeling when you’ve first been told someone has died. It’s surreal, you ask, “Wait, what? Can that really be?” My first reaction was, ‘quick, find shoes and socks - I don’t know yet where I need to go, but I know I’m driving somewhere.’ For the best, my rational side retains enough control in the midst of emotional chaos to allow me to process logistics and not panic. Mom and I hung up, I finished getting dressed, updated my Facebook status, and sent a brief email to my closest friends and coworkers; I can have my emotional breakdown later, right now the most important thing is to get the word out, something at which computers in our flat world (Thomas Friedman) are quite proficient. More specifically, I knew this was a time I needed to “summon the troops”, or rather, the prayer-warriors. Literally within minutes of emailing and Facebooking, I’d already received several text and FB messages of support and condolence, as well as promised prayer. (Other friends called, texted, and mailed throughout the day, for which I am so absolutely grateful; they really helped lift me up.)

Personally I had hoped Grandpa’s death would have been timed out like Grandma Sue’s - we had five days to vigil after she began “actively dying”, time enough to gather the family and get people in from out of town. Today we had no warning at all. On the other hand, Grandpa went through his normal routine this morning, breakfast, nap, nursing home activity, lunch, and then just went to sleep. That’s about as peaceful as anyone could hope for.

With Christmas later this week, along with the ginormous snowstorm that crossed Minnesota today, and with literally everyone in the family (except Mom and Dad and I) out of town right now, logistics of funeral scheduling look very different from the previous two funerals we’ve planned; in those cases, things had to be planned very quickly, because the funeral itself was mere days away. This time we’re delaying a week until after Christmas, until everyone can [hopefully] get here. It’ll also give me time to clean my house in case out of town relatives need my hide-a-bed and/or couches.

Now begins the grief process. Already I’m feeling that burden of guilt, “I could have visited more, I could have sent more cards, I never played my guitar for him, I never showed him Harry Putter 1, I hardly ever spent time with him, and now I can’t.” My best friend encouraged me that it’s not healthy to dwell on those thoughts, but they still haunt me, and I suppose they will for a while. On the other hand, I can choose to look on the positive side. I did visit sometimes, I did mail him cards every month to say hello, I did have a relationship with Grandpa while he was still alive, and once I have a chance to process, I know I still have those memories of him to hold on to.

Though it’s hard to lose someone, especially right before Christmas (or any major holiday), our family is resting in the knowledge that this will be the happiest Christmas of Grandpa’s life - not only does he get to celebrate with Jesus, he’s dancing with Grandma again, his mind is sharp again, and there’s no more wheelchair!! Sure, there could be some theological discussion about when resurrection happens, but I choose to believe it’s immediate; (please bear with me as I mix together lyrics from several songs) Grandpa’s spirit flew away from Earth and ran right into God’s wide open arms, and he heard a Voice that said, “Welcome home, my good and faithful servant.”

I love you, Grandpa, and I miss you.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Dorothy Martineau

You can find anyone and everyone on the Internet in today’s day and age, right?

Unfortunately, no. In fact, Facebook, and even the almighty Google, have both failed to dramatically further my quest to reconnect with my friend and former classmate from 9th grade, Dorothy Martineau. After encouragement from my Mom, I write this blog post with hopes and prayers that Dorothy, or perhaps another acquaintance, may stumble upon it and help end my search. It’s not a life and death emergency, really I just want to know whatever happened to her. In my one year at North High School I could literally count on one hand the number of fellow students there I truly considered friends. Of the two I’d still like to be in contact with, Nate is on Facebook, so, despite the fact that we don’t really ever message each other, the fact of the matter is that I know he’s still alive and doing well, and if either of us wanted to reconnect, we’re only a couple clicks away.

Dorothy I have no clue.

Dorothy and I graduated 8th grade from Anne Sullivan Communication Center in South Minneapolis in June 2000. (Notice how I’m stuffing in as many search-engine-friendly keywords as possible :) From there, we were two of three Sullivan students who went to North High School in North Minneapolis. I didn’t really know her in middle school, but on our first day at North, when all the freshmen were doing orientation things, we somehow found each other and became friends. We also rode the same bus, I’m sure that might have helped (this was eight years ago, mind you, so my memory is a little swiss-cheesed by now).

Anyway, there’s one memory that I have held on to ever since 9th grade, something Dorothy said that has literally shaped who I am, and continues to do so today. One day, we were riding home on the school bus, and for some reason we were talking about youth groups at church. I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, all I remember is Dorothy telling me “You know, I’m really glad that someone else cool still goes to church.”

That’s powerful. And not just because someone thought I was cool (although that’s pretty neat, too, since, well, “cool” hasn’t traditionally been an adjective people use to describe me...). But seriously, for her as a 9th grader to already see how faith sets us apart from “the world,” and how that actually makes a difference in the way we live, as well as the fact that I must have been doing something right to actually be living that life... Wow. Words won’t do it justice here, but that is by far one of my fondest memories of my entire life.

So I want to find her, I want to find out what’s happened in these last seven years.
  • She’s not on Facebook, or, if she is, her profile is completely hidden from searches (some people do that, weird, but true), and she does not show up in queries for North High School class of 2004

  • She’s not on (not too surprising, few people our age are)

  • Google searches for her name return relatively little, just two publications of North’s Polaris newspaper, on which Dorothy was apparently a page editor during her senior year

  • The North Alumni association person does not have any contact information, though she was able to confirm for me that Dorothy did graduate in 2004

  • Minneapolis Public Schools is unable to release any information from past students’ records

  • I have already tried asking our mutual friend Nate (from North, also ’04), but he did not have any contact info, either

  • The yearbook from my freshman year only has teacher signatures, no students, so despite my hopes before unearthing it, no magic phone number there either

  • I’m reasonably certain the Dorothy Martineau listed on this page is her (the age would be correct), but that doesn’t really help much

  • There’s a non-profit foundation’s tax-return document from 2004 on Google that I’m not going to link, but it references a scholarship Dorothy received, must have been upon graduating, it wasn’t super clear
That’s it. If you reading this know anything I don’t, please let me know! I’m one of the easiest people to find electronically that I know: message me on Facebook, send me an email, or just post a comment here.

In further researching the tax return mentioned above, it is indeed talking about scholarships granted to seniors from North High who will be attending a two- or four-year college within Minnesota or a state with whom we have reciprocity (Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, and one or two colleges in Iowa). So, presumably, Dorothy did indeed go to college in one of these four states.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Perfect Bathroom

A few weeks ago I started thinking, “if I ever own a public building and have the opportunity, what would my perfect public bathroom look like?”

- Motion sensor lighting to save electricity
- Stalls with full floor to ceiling height walls with grated doors for privacy
- Manual flush toilet (I hate those automatic ones that flush before you’re done)
- Manual, single handle faucets with automatic soap dispensers next to each of them
- Automatic hand dryers, and also automatic paper towel dispensers, but not the kind that you have to wave your hand in front of them hoping they might choose to have mercy, rather the kind that automatically dispenses a new towel whenever the previous towel is torn off
- A trash can right next to the [preferably outwardly opening] door

Most of these are sanitary more than cosmetic preferences. For example, I always use my last paper towel to open the door when I’m exiting the restroom, because there are a lot of idiots who don’t wash their hands, and I don’t want to touch that handle. This means a trash can next to the door is a necessity. An outwardly opening door helps solve this germ problem even more, because you don’t have to actually touch it, just lean against it or shove it open with your foot.

Random? Such is life.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Praise You in this Storm

Twice last Sunday Casting Crowns’ ‘Praise You In This Storm’ played on the radio while I was in the car (once on the way to church, once on the way home). Coincidentally (or not?), the sermon that day was about praising God no matter what our life circumstances. After having had a weekend where I was completely worn out, drained physically and emotionally. I think God might have been trying to tell me something.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


When is a job “just a job?” When does working for an organization mean that you may be, intentionally or not, supporting ideals with which you don’t personally agree?

One of my friends called me out on this yesterday:

"Hey Jeremy, ... I came across the site for the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, which credits you for the website design.  I was just kind of surprised to see your name there, because I have heard of this group and they are...well...kind of anti-gay.  Just wondering what was up there."

A few years ago, after completing a new site design for Minnehaha, I was approached by a coworker asking if I’d help create a new website for Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC). As a college student in need of money and resumé-building website experience, this seemed like a great opportunity.

As I posted news articles for LCMC, though, I was bothered, as my friend noted, at just how anti-homosexual some of the writings were. At the time, I decided this would simply need to fall into the category of being “just another job.” After all, I’d never attended a church service there, and had no connection other than maintaining their website. Regardless of my disagreement with the published material, LCMC was still 100% within their First Amendment rights to say what they said.

This concern came to my mind again this summer after posting another such article, and I strongly considered whether I should drop support for the site. Life got busy, and rather than taking time to ponder, I chose not to choose, maintained my status quo, and ignored the problem.

Several weeks ago, LCMC approached me asking if I would be willing to create a website for an individual congregation. I’m incredibly busy right now, and the very last thing I need in my life is “one more thing to do.” That said, as an immediate post-college graduate whose student loans are about to come due, the potential supplemental income was enough to make me consider, and eventually offer a hesitant “yes.” However, I felt uneasy, partly because, well, it’s “one more thing to do,” but also because of my concerns about supporting an organization that, while not their main objective, spreads something I consider to be much less than the love that Christianity is supposed to be about.

After my friend’s message yesterday, I realized that, unfortunately, I can’t distance myself and say “it’s just a job” - the choices I make have very real ramifications, and the groups I associate myself with can bear heavily on how others see my character. LCMC is not an organization that I can continue to support.

I’ve never been to an LCMC church, I only know my one or two contacts from doing the web work. They aren’t bad people, they’re no “better” nor “worse” sinners than the rest of us. But I do not believe following Christ ought to include an attitude of hostility and discrimination against our brothers and sisters in Christ who just happen to be homosexual, particularly since two of my closest friends are.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Executing Javascripts within Content Loaded via Ajax.Updater

I spent an on-and-off 5 hours today searching for what ended up being a very simple solution. Hopefully this might save someone else the trouble if you stumble upon it.

The Goal: I needed certain pieces of text from a dynamically loaded section of a webpage to turn into editable form elements when clicked.

The Problem: After a little searching, I eventually found this could be done with a call to Scriptaculous’s Ajax.InPlaceEditor. However, when dynamically loading part of the page via a call to Prototype’s Ajax.Updater, the javascript for the InPlaceEditor didn’t execute. It wasn’t just a syntax error, a simple alert() didn’t work either.

The Solution: Literally hours later, after many searches and many experiments (through which I learned the InPlaceEditor worked fine when placed on the original page, just not when put into the dynamically loaded portion), I discovered the answer was unbelievably simple. If I had simply RTFM’d, I would have seen in Prototype’s documentation ( that Ajax.Updater has an option called evalScripts, which defaults to false. Passing that parameter as true made everything work perfectly.

<div class="row" id="someID" onclick="new Ajax.Updater('someID', 'callbackpage.php', {
method: 'post',
evalScripts: true

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Harsh Climate

I found this little diddy on CNN quite amusing:
Within the concrete of the new bridge are embedded 323 sensors that will generate a record of how it handles the stresses and strains of traffic and Minnesota's harsh climate.

Having grown up in it, I never realized someone from out of state might consider Minnesota’s climate “harsh.”


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Thoughts on Naming Children

I have a friend named Kayla. She has two siblings: a sister Kasey and a brother Kyle. Notice a theme? I do.

And for no apparent reason this got me thinking recently about how I want to name my children some day. What I’ve determined is that I must marry someone whose name starts with either a J, K, or possibly an I (but I can’t for the life of me think of anyone I’ve met whose name starts with the letter I).


Because, if I marry J, then all of our children could be named with J’s...

Or, if I marry K, then our children could be named progressively with L, M, N... (I hope there’s not more than three...) The same applies to “I”, but in reverse (H, G, F...)

Ridiculous? You bet! I’m of course not going to limit myself to relationships with people whose names start with I, J, and K, but who knows, maybe I’ll meet someone with my same sense of humor who likes this schema for child-naming... I’ll keep dreaming.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sudoing in PHP to Reset Folder Permissions

At work today I engaged our academic file server (running Mac OS X.5.4) in an on-and-off all-day battle about folder permissions. The problems:

  1. One of our teachers kept getting locked out of his folders on the server when he modified or moved them from his PC client. Bummer. I needed an EASY way for him to reset his permissions himself, meaning:

  2. I needed to create a web-accessible script (in PHP) to make a UNIX call to reset his permissions on-demand (ie, whenever he visited the page, his permissions would be reset)

Here’s how I eventually won:

I created a file in the server’s web host root (for this particular server, just the default /Library/WebServer/Documents/) called teachername.php (where “teachername” is the teacher’s name... duh). Even though our website is hosted on a separate server, the server in question also has web services enabled, which will allow the teacher to simply visit and the server will run the script.

Creating that script wasn’t as easy as I expected, though. After hours researching and trying to get PHP’s system() function to work, I decided to try exec() instead. The file contents look something like this:

$output = array();
$return = -5; // Some erroneous value
exec("sudo /bin/chmod -R 770 /Volumes/Share\ Point/teacherusername/",$output,$return);
echo "chmod output: ";
echo '<br /><br />';
echo "sudo/chmod return value: " . $return . "<br /><br />";
echo "<strong>Permissions reset complete.</strong>";

There's really only one line that's important, the rest is all debugging info:

exec("sudo /bin/chmod -R 770 /Volumes/Share\ Point/teacherusername/",$output,$return);

This tells PHP to spawn a new child process to execute the sudo command. I had to add apache’s _www user to the sudoers file on the server (in Terminal, use the command "sudo visudo", then edit using vi commands):

_www    ALL=NOPASSWD: /bin/chmod,/usr/bin/whoami

IMPORTANT SECURITY NOTE: the _www user ONLY has permissions to sudo the commands chmod and whoami (and do so without a password), it ISN'T allowed to sudo anything else. For more information about modifying the sudoers file, refer to, as well as the limited documentation available in the file itself. (you can try it on your own Mac, just open terminal and type "sudo visudo").

The rest is basic POSIX permissions: change mode (chmod) -Recursively to -rwxrwx--- (770) on the teacher’s folder. The other PHP variables give the exec command a place to deposit both the return value from sudo (a 0 means successful execution), as well as any output that was generated by chmod (should be none).

Yes, I had fun with this puzzle. Hopefully someone else might stumble on this and find it useful, too...

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Secret TV Show of the American 20-something

ABC Family recently premiered a new show called The Secret Life of the American Teenager, a family oriented show that, refreshingly, talks openly and directly about issues surrounding teen sex and pregnancy. Despite the potential pitfall of stereotyped characters, the acting is believable, the writing magnificently real and oftentimes hilarious, and the underlying moral messages quite agreeable to my personal taste.

Why would I watch such a show, clearly targeted to an audience several years younger than myself? It all started while I watched through the 4th season of Wildfire on ABC Family’s website a few weeks ago - every “commercial break” they play an ad... except they literally only had three ads, which, after 13 episodes and 5 ad breaks per episode, became quite old really quickly. Anyway, after seeing the add for TSLOTAT no fewer than two dozen times in a three or four day period, I was tempted enough to check it out - it looked entertaining, and I typically like “chick-flick” type TV shows anyway.

What I loved most about the pilot episode was the writing. Seriously, I wish I could talk like these characters on the fly in real life, especially Ben - even in his awkward telephone moments he ends up saying something either profound or at least potentially meaningful. I also greatly appreciated one of the very first lines that Amy’s character says near the beginning: “I had sex.... It was not that great.... And it wasn’t fun and definitely not like what you see in the movies, you know all romantic and stuff.” Despite wearing its motives on its sleeve (to adapt a cliché), I greatly enjoyed how open TSLOTAT was at making such an anti-cultural statement. It’s high time television took a more realistic and less idealistic tact toward real-life issues of teen sex and teen pregnancies. Which is why I also appreciated the PSA-style monologue Amy’s actor delivers at the end of the episode, a well-scripted paragraph something to the effect of ‘teenage pregnancy is 100% avoidable.” Because it is. Regardless of one’s views on abstinence-only education, that fact remains, there is a simple solution.

On lighter notes, I also absolutely love Ben’s friends Alice and Henry - they are so hilarious! Every time they appear on screen, I know I’ll laugh. Alice is a 100% straight shooter, she acts as the dictionary pop-up-video with facts about everything Ben and Henry might banter about; and Henry serves as one wonderfully delightful (and friendly) foil to Ben through making bets that force Ben into action.

Thanks to a really good friend (someone who is even more addicted to the show than I; yes, I’m not the only one who loves it), I’ve finally caught up to the current episode, which means Tuesdays at 7:00, I’ll be on my couch watching ABC Family... except for tomorrow, when I have to work at that specific time to tech an event at school. Alas.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Exponential Growth

While reviewing the first 150 pages of The World Is Flat as preparation for a brief Internet introduction to a group of Minnehaha eighth graders last week, I came to a scary realization: my 16GB iPhone 3G has a larger “hard drive” (even though it’s flash based memory) than my first several desktop computers as a child. Moore’s Law, you’re creeping me out!

NetBooting from OS X Leopard Server 10.5.4

I spent the better part of my day battling our new Leopard Server installation trying to get NetBoot working. It should have been as easy as creating a NetInstall set with Mike Bomich’s software, however, turns out there’s some funky graphics driver included in X.5.4 that causes net-booted PowerPC machines to kernel panic on startup... Well that won’t do. After lots of Googling, these threads looked promising, and for some admins’ issues, they may very well solve the problem:

Careful in that last one - if you delete your /etc/bootpd.plist file (like I did several times), it also mysteriously deletes your DCHP subnets... all of them... so if you had 10 configured... gone. And it turns DHCP off, which, if you’re NetBooting from your DHCP server, means all of a sudden you can’t NetBoot at all, because your client can’t get an IP address. Arg.

It was finally this thread’s solution that worked for me. Recreating kext files, who’d’a thunk?

kextcache -a ppc -m locationofnbifolder/ppc/mach.macosx.mkext -N -L /Volumes/Netinstall-Restore/System/Library/Extensions/

Friday, August 08, 2008

I Hate Chain Mail

There’s not a whole lot more to say on the matter. I hate urban legends that spread like e-wildfire, and I’m anything but fond of the emotional letters detailing heart-wrenching events that almost always prove to be fiction. I hate the pompous arrogance of emails that promise you something good in your life... if only you’ll forward this to ten more people... because if you don’t, of course, you’re uncaring and heartless. Worst, I hate how nobody ever bothers to delete the old email addresses out of the mail they forward (because almost no one knows how to BCC, even though it’s painfully simple), which means every time I receive an unsolicited chain email, my email address is suddenly also sent to 20 other people, some of whom may have virus-ridden PCs, and others of whom will forward that letter again, *still with my email address* to more and more people... No wonder spam emails have become so abundant over the years - well-intentioned, but problematically ignorant, people are helping it.

The rant is over. Kudos and thanks to those of you who forward using blind-carbon-copy (Aunt Judi, you’ve been trained well), and especially those who check Snopes first!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Speeding Tickets from CNN

I’m not sure how I feel about news articles detailing ways to avoid getting tickets, but that aside, I read something absolutely hilarious at the end of one such article on CNN today:

The worst possible thing you can do is combine all the no-no's listed above by driving a flashy car too fast, late at night when you're the only car on the road while looking like you just robbed a bank.

If you do that, expect a speeding ticket. And expect no mercy.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I Hate Microsoft

I’m working on a site for Bethel Lutheran Church in Northfield, and, as with any new site design, the bane of my existence always comes back to cross-browser CSS compatibility. I’ve got my design working beautifully in Safari and Firefox, now comes the scary part: testing in Internet Explorer. I start up Boot Camp and open the page... Surprisingly, IE renders almost the entire page correctly, there’s only one glaring mistake. Fortunately, this *should* be easy to fix, because IE supports conditional comments, meaning I can insert style code that only IE will read and no one else.

Here’s the funny part: in looking up documentation on how exactly to do what I want, I found this little diddy on Microsoft’s site:

Conditional comments make it easy for developers to take advantage of the enhanced features offered by Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 and later versions, while writing pages that downgrade gracefully in less-capable browsers or display correctly in browsers other than Windows Internet Explorer.

It’s terribly ironic, because EVERY OTHER BROWSER is displaying the page correctly, it’s ONLY IE that fails miserably, time after time, site after site. Oh, Microsoft, how I hate you.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Family Bonding

It may sound weird, but some of my fondest memories of “family bonding” growing up came from cleaning up small floods in the basement, either after a very heavy rain or if the drains backed up. This happened again a few days ago at my house, after my parents finished some unrelated plumbing fixes in the upstairs bathroom. Dad happened to go downstairs to get a tool or something, and came back up to tell Mom and I that there was water everywhere. Without any pause they immediately jumped into action with the shopvac and some rugs, and in a short time our team effort resulted in a nearly dry floor. The worst part: it was almost fun.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Free Gas!

I’ve heard and seen ads that TCF Bank is offering free $50 gas cards if you open a new checking account with them, so, given the amount of driving I’m doing between Minneapolis and Northfield, I decided I’d give it a try. Less than half an hour and a very small deposit later, and I walked out the door with my gas card. Even better, because I already had two business accounts with TCF, I was qualified for a slightly special free checking account with a few extra benefits and free checks (only pay $6 shipping, rather than the $16 cost of checks themselves). Counting that against the free $50, I still came out $44 ahead - that’s about two thirds of a tank, w00t!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Benefits of Useless Knowledge

I have experienced proof that useless knowledge may not be so useless after all: this past Wednesday and Thursday I attended an Apple technology training seminar for education, and at the end of the conference they had door prizes to award for answering Apple-related trivia questions. The prizes included some Apple t-shirts, mugs, pens, and several copies of Aperture, a $200 piece of photo-editing software. Most of the questions were related to content of the training sessions, but some were about Apple’s history. I knew about half the answers along the way, but I bided my time until the end when Aperture went on the block. Then came the question: ‘List all of the big cat names that Apple has used for OS X, in order of release.’ Yes! My hand shot into the air and I rattled off all 7 names: Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard. Most people familiar with Apple can probably name the last four or five, since those versions were all marketed to the public with the cat names, but Cheetah (OS X.0) and Puma (OS X.1) were only used as internal code-names, before Apple’s marketing department picked up on the big cat theme. And so, my otherwise useless knowledge garnered me a free copy of Aperture! Not bad for 10 seconds worth of work.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Finding Nemo

I first saw Finding Nemo with a group of friends a few months ago at school, and, though I perhaps did not enjoy it quite to the same extent they did (I *did* like it, just didn’t love it), there was an important message I saw about just how much parents love their children. The Nemo story is about a child fish who gets lost, and his Dad’s quest to find him. His Dad braves the unknown ocean world and goes through ordeal after ordeal to find him, because he loves him so much.

I had a similar first-hand encounter with this love when my laptop was stolen in early April. Within two hours of hearing about the theft, my Dad was already cleaning off the data from one of his spare laptops so I could borrow it for the week, and later that day allowed me to order a replacement with his credit card while we waited for the insurance check to arrive later that week. Throughout the entire week my parents showed me nothing but pure love... Perhaps the Finding Nemo story about a Father’s love is allegorical, too? Hm...

Scary Nightmare

You know there’s something really... weird... about your life when you have a nightmare centered around your voice recorder running out of batteries... Yes, I did actually have that nightmare like that several months ago... So bizarre, but based on how much I depend on that little device, not entirely surprising. This past week when I was in Italy I’d purposely left my voice recorder at home, and it was remarkable how many times I instinctively reached into my pocket to grab it before realizing it was back in Minnesota.


I have a confession to make that should have been posted back in January: I actually enjoy watching hockey! I went with friends to two different hockey games at Olaf, and, despite my [presumed] dislike for all sports, I found out that I was, in fact, having fun (watching the Zamboni was pretty exciting, too). Scary.

That is all.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Italy - Day 9

The final walking-tour day of Rome began with a visit to the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli, inside of which lives Michelangelo's sculpture of Moses, as well as (of course) a magnificent ceiling painting and other wall ornamentation.

A mere 200 metres away from the church we arrived at the Colisseum, where we were met by Alberto (our tour guide from several days ago). We equipped ourselves with some schnazzy little walkie talkie receivers (to hear his every word) and set out on the adventure.

The tour was fairly quick, the monolithic nature of the building awe-some, and soon we were on our way to the Forum, where Alberto led us around for over an hour, pointing out the historic sights... My memory couldn't take it all, there was so much all in one small place!

After Aberto left us Mrs. Vitt continued the guided tour, revealing yet more undiscovered places in and around the forum before breaking for lunch.

Following food, we came to the Museo Nazionale Romano, another nearby museum featuring an entire floor of amazingly amazing (and by that I mean large and almost entirely complete) mosaics, as well as two floors of various busts and statues, including the famous Discobolo statue.

After a short bus ride, our next stop was the Trevi fountain, where the students were given a brief period of free time to shop, grab gelato, and, of course, throw a coin over their left shoulder into the fountain (doing so is said to bring the coin-thrower good luck in returning to Rome some day; the coins in the fountain are collected monthly and donated to charity). During the free time Mrs. Vitt also acquired a nice looking, red street-Prada purse, over which she remained giddy for the entire rest of the evening.

Our Italian adventure's final landmark visit was the Spanish Steps, where, upon arrival, we were immediately accosted by no fewer than four street vendors selling postcards, roses, noise makers, bubble blowers, and many other random things. After a brief period of time at the steps, our weary travelers returned to the hotel to freshen up and change before our fancy dinner (yes, at least one boy actually wore a suit!).

Dinner was delicious, and emotional. First, the food: risotto, followed by salmon and potatoes... Absolutely wonderful (at least, most of the adults seemed to think so, and I saw more than a few empty plates amongst the kids, too).

During the dinner, we took time to applaud for and thank both Sergio and Michelle for all their hard work in making everything come together so smoothly; To Michelle the group all contributed to buy her a pair of nice earings she had been eyeing a few days ago at the shell store-she definitely got a little teary eyed.

Sergio received a bag of Minnesota trinkets, including a mug with loon picture, several postcards, and a packet of mix for wild rice soup. He took a few moments to offer his thanks to the group, as well, and said he'd truly enjoyed his time spent with us over the last week and a half. The kids all loved him, I think we'll all miss him very much.

At the end of dinner we were entertained by some very skilled opera singers, who performed several classic Italian songs for us while we clapped and took pictures. Following the performance, the group enjoyed our last gelato excursion of this trip and then came back to the hotel to begin the arduous task of packing. Wake up is 6:00 tomorrow, we'll leave for the airport by private coach at 7:15. Our flight is schedule to depart Rome at 10:20.

This will likely be the last update I send to this list, I hope you feel you were able to get at least a small glimpse of what our journey has been like. Thanks for reading!

Quotes of the Day:

"Hey look, that big round thing" - Mari, as we approached the Colisseum

"Now I am full of cholestoral and happy." - Sergio, after eating sushi and gelato

"If you think your country is strange you should come to our country!" - Jenny Finch, after Sergio's goodbye speech

Italy - Day 8

Today has been jam-packed full of activity with few breaks and lots of walking! From our hotel we walked past some nearby Roman ruins, and shortly thereafter encountered, behind an unasuming facade, the impressive interior of Santa Maria degli Angeli church. All the Catholic churches here seem to be both massive and well-decorated with golden borders, marble sculptures and pillars, and large paintings covering every available wallspace. The church was a stunning example of Michelangelo's ability to apply his creative genius to a pre-existing Roman architectural treasure. (Okay, I'll be honest, that last [intelligent-sounding] sentence was dictated by one of the other parents, not me :)

Our walking tour continued with the sight of a giant obilisk, erected by order of Pope Sixtus the Fifth many years ago. Following this we continued to have much fun herding kids across streets on our way to a bus stop.

The next cathedral (Santa Maria) we stopped at was once again massive and beautiful, and also sported some fancy confessional booths with indicator lights to show if they're occupied (maybe they have those back in the states, too, but it was new to me). This cathedral houses the tomb of Bernini, has a ceiling laced with golden leaf from around the world, and is a "potpouri of architectural styles."

On our way to Capitoline museum, we randomly bumped into one of the local tour guides we'd had our first day in Rome. Once in the museum, we saw treasures from the ancient world that many years ago had been deemed by the Pope as too paganistic to continue living in the Vatican. Two giant buildings and two hours later, we braved the slighty rainy Rome streets to acquire lunch, as well as have a brief period of time for shopping, after which we tram-ed to another church, Santa Cecilia. Here the basement was the main attraction, holding the remodeled remains of a very early private house church; the larger church building was then built atop (all of Rome has continued to literally be built up on top of itself, which is why most of the ruins we've seen thus far have been several metres below current ground level).

Rome is so very different from Minnesota, not only in climate, but in that here, merely walking down the street it's nearly impossible not to stumble or trip over the history that's just sticking out of the ground. Actually, I think some people (myself included) have actually done some stumbling... It's neat, though, because the ruins are randomly interspersed amongst the modern buildings and streets.

Our final church of the day began by sticking our hands into the Bocca della Verita (the Mouth of Truth), a literal mouth-shaped orifice belonging to a thin face carved into rock outside the church of Santa Maria. The interior of this church was smaller and less extravagent as the others we'd seen today, the mouth seemed to be the main attraction. We arrived only shortly before closing time and were promptly shoo-ed out of the building.

The next bus ride was a true adventure. First, we had an up close encounter with the police... Okay, it wasn't nearly that dramatic, just that two siren-blaring polizia vehicles passed in between us as we were attempting to cross a street. Second, once we finally boarded the bus (we missed our first chance by mere seconds, and then had to wait many minutes before the right bus arrived again), it broke down, or ran out of gas, before we reached our destination, so we disembarked and walked about 200 metres extra to our hotel. We had about 15 minutes to relax then before leaving for dinner.

The bus to dinner must have been in cahoots with our earlier bus, because it, too, failed to make it all the way to our stop, necessitating a slightly longer walk than planned.

Dinner was entertaining and "different." We were served the closest recreation of an authentic ancient Roman dinner, and during the evening some men dressed as gladiators came out and fought near our table. All the kids had the opportunity to have their pictures taken with the gladiators at the end of the meal, too!

Reactions to the food were overall positive, and I think everyone enjoyed the battles. What's more, the cost of water, Coke, Fanta, and, for the adults, wine, was all included in the [prepaid] ticket price (normally these are each several euros extra at a meal). We were also grateful for something other than veal again :) The food itself was tasty; there was, for the first course, an egg, several slices of dense bread, and two other slices of bread with intriguing Roman toppings... One had olives in the spreading, unfortunately I couldn't hear the full lists of ingredients beyond that (and lots of vinegar, too). The second course was a creation involving fancy white cheese chunks and some bread-like mash, actually quite tasty.

After the meal some of our travelers elected to go out for gelato, but most came back to the hotel to get an early shot at sleep. It's been an exhaustingly full day!

Quotes of the day:

"I love my Mom" - Taylor Besser

"Some days I look at myself in the bathroom and say 'wow.' " - Sergio

"I was laying in bed last night laughing about veal." - Mary Learmont

"Are these for drinking? [Points at clay cups on table; Mrs. Vitt nods] Oh, interesting!" - Mari Marcotte

Italy - Day 7

Our day started bright and early with a 6:30 wake up and 7:50 departure; first stop: the subway! The hotel is a mere 200 metres from a major transit station, so walking there didn't take long at all. Then began the adventuresome task of hustling a large group of students onto and off of the train-very exciting, and everyone made it through in one piece.

We arrived near Vatican city before the masses (we were by no means first, but the line was fairly short to get in). After successfully passing through the metal detectors, we began a several hour tour of the Vatican museum, full of paintings, statues, busts, intricately woven draperies, and fancy tile designs, culminating, of course, in the artwork of the Sistene Chapel. The Minnehaha students were among the most well-behaved in the room, and many watched with mouths agape at the abysmally disrespectful behavior of other foreigners (talking loudly while using flash cameras) - you can tell your student when they get home that we're (the chaperones and parents on the trip) proud of them.

After completing the museum tour we began our ascent of St Peter's Cathedral, climbing tight spiral staircases until we reached an outlook on the roof near the top of the [rather high altitude] dome. The view overlooking Rome was magnificent, unable to be described in words. For me personally, it reminded me very much of the outlook over Paris from the Eiffel Tower (in terms of awe over seeing the spralling cityscape).

After returning to ground level (some students enjoyed a race down the lower, wider staircase), we departed the Vatican and broke for a lunch. After lunch and a short bus ride, we began a walking tour of various landmarks, including a cat sanctuary (made amidst Roman ruins), the Pantheon (large enough to fit a 14-story sphere inside), various other bits of Roman walls and ruins, a public water fountain (okay, but seriously, there was a lesson here, and that is that you need not bend over under the dripping stream to drink, but can place a finger under the faucet such that the water jumps up into your mouth like a more contemporary fountain), and finally the Piasa de Navona, where the kids were given time to check out the architecture in the square, as well as shop amongst the local artisans and painters, all of whom had beatiful works of art on display. Several instrument players also seranaded the courtyard with violin, guitar, and other pleasant noises.

We had a fairly long (and *very* crowded!) bus ride to dinner (keep in mind these are public busses now-we no longer have our private coach for our time in Rome), and then a long, relaxing pasta and veal meal, during which we were serenaded by a guitaer player singing Italian (and some American) songs.

We've got an early bedtime tonight (although I believe the boys are all gathering in Mr. Kozel's room to watch the football game) and a late wake up tomorrow, which is much appreciated after a long day spent almost entirely on our feet. Tomorrow we'll visit at least one, if not two, museum[s], as well as any churches we pass on the way.

Quotes of the day:

"My plan [if we get separated in the Vatican] is to collapse into a heap of tears and call my mommy." - Mr. Nick Kozel

"Oh, he's a real person, he opened his eyes!" - Sarah, seeing a living statue of the Statue of Liberty

"No, they [boys] eat everything, like a vacuum." - Sergio

Italy - Day 6

To all you fathers out there, happy Father's Day!!

After checking out of our hotel, our day began with a two hour bus ride toward Rome, broken into bite sized pieces by a brief rest (and snack-buying) stop along the way.

The first destination of the day was the Ostia ruins, a small Roman city with some similar architecture and tile floorwork as Pompeii. Unlike Pompeii, though, this city slowly died out and was left to ruin over time. Many of the tile designs are remarkably well-preserved, though, having stood the test of time and weather quite well.

Speaking of weather, today was absolutely gorgeous: sunny skies, very few clouds, a nice breeze, and only luke-warm temps (vs scorching heat).

After a break for lunch and gift-shop shopping, we bussed to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, only a short drive away. Here we were given a brief introductory explanation of the cartacomb structure and its origin, then we got to go underground for an up close look. I believe the guide said that only approximately 10% of the tombs remain un-plundered after centuries of pirateering and conquerors, but the structure itself is pretty amazing to walk through. We even saw a few small shrines down there where believers came to hold mass. Quite neat.

After the catacombs we walked a short distance down the street to St. Sebastiano's church (our first official church visit on the trip) - the ceiling paintings and sculptures were remarkable, and again, plenty of pictures were taken.

Checking into our new hotel was an adventure. Because the hotel lacked parking space in front (Sergio knew this in advance so we could plan ahead), we stopped the bus on the side of a crowded street, unloaded extremely quickly, and then proceeded to walk several blocks (or '200 metres') to the hotel ("200 metres" has become our running joke of measuring distances - Italians are not always the best at estimating the distance between two points, so when this was grossly exemplified several days ago [as Mrs. Vitt, Sergio, and I were trying to find a cell phone store], we latched onto the phrase as our default answer whenever anyone asks how far away something is... Maybe you have to be here...).

The walk was quickly forgotten, though, because we have a really nice hotel. Very elegant and fancy (including interestingly shaped rectangular toilets), as well as decent sized rooms.

We met shortly thereafter and walked around the block (200 metres, of course) to an upscale restaurant, where we were served a delicious first course of ravioli and a second course of veal (an apparent hit among the male youth).

After dinner we took a short 200 metre walk to a nearby gelato storefront for a second helping of dessert, after which we returned to our hotel and did bed-checks. Wake up is at 6:20 tomorrow morning, because we're leaving early to go to the Vatican!

We had many quotes-of-the-day for today, so please bear with me:

"Let's go and use the [communal] toilets" - Alberto, our local tour guide at the ruins, referring to the ancient Roman public toilets

"I don't think they [mummies] ever thought they'd be dug up and put under glass." - Ann Bexell
"Yeah they did, they signed a contract." - Nick Kozel, thinking the conversation was still about the recent bodies exhibit at the Science Museum
"What?" - everyone
"Oh, I didn't realise we''re talking about the mummies again!" - Nick

"I love you and I curse you" - Michelle, quoting an ancient story
"That's the story of my life" - Nick Kozel

"We each went home with a piece of the monster [turkey]" - Sergio, telling us about his first Thanksgiving celebration with friends

"BYOM [bring your own monster]" - Mrs. Vitt

"Tony is perfect" - Sergio, then Mrs. Vitt, in reference to the length of Tony's pants

"How can this [beautiful landscape] be in the middle of Rome?" - Mary Learmont

"Nick says ['go ahead and start eating']. That's 's-e-z.' " - Mrs. Vitt

Italy - Day 5

Today we left our hotel in Sorrento at 8:30 and set off for Mount Vesuvius, about an hour's drive away. On our way, Sergio (our tour manager) gave the students a brief Italian lesson, covering such basics as "what is your name" and "how are you?" There will be several more lessons during future bus rides (the sheet he passed out also contains phrases for getting directions, shopping, dining, and various signs one might see on the street).

The road up Vesuvio is narrow and twisty, but our bus driver (Bruno) is quite skilled at his craft and navigated the wind-y path without any apparent difficulty. Once nearer the top, we disembarked and set off to hike the few remaining metres to the pinacle, where we were greeted by a local tour guide who gave us a rather informative, and also very fluent, presentation about the volcano. Most everyone took a few minutes to scrounge and acquire some mineral rocks, then we headed back down to our bus. Unfortunately, the mountain top was engulfed in a puffy cloud, preventing us from looking down onto Pompeii. Alas.

Upon reboarding the bus we once again set out on the road for Naples. We took a road less traveled to get there, owing to the fact that one of the primary motorway exits to the city was closed (confusing normal traffic patterns). Along the way we stopped for a bathroom break at a cameo shell shop, oggling at the beautiful, and also very expensive, shell jewelry.

One interesting phenomenon we've been noticing during our visit is the sheer quantity of trash lying on the sides of the roads, apparently due to innefective (or corrupt) politics regarding trash management... I'm sure Google can tell you more, it's just an interesting sight we've seen.

When we arrived in Naples we split up for lunch and met back at the National Archeological Museum, where we spent the rest of our afternoon touring and absorbing as much information from Mrs. Vitt as possible. Exhibits in the museum included intricate tile mosaics from Pompeii, a large variety of statues and busts, as well as an Egyptian exhibit with a couple mummies. Plenty of pictures were taken, so once we're back you can ask your student to give you a slideshow.

After leaving the museum we traveled to the town of Cassino, famous in history for a crushing Ally victory during WWII. We'll only be staying in our hotel here this one night, and tomorrow morning we set off for Rome!

A delicious ravioli and mystery meat dinner followed soon after arrival (they did tell us what the meat was, I just can't remember right now), and following that we went on a walking excursion in the hopes of seeing some nearby Roman ruins. However, when we got to the gate, the site was already closed for the night, so we brought the kids to get ice cream and then sent them to bed (after a nice little walk back to the hotel - the weather was wonderfully cool and the sky crystal clear).

Quote of the day: (in reference to our lunch)

"It's clearly not fair to make pizza this good!" - Nick Kozel

Italy - Day 4

Today started with a rousing bus ride to the port, where we boarded an island skipper and rode out to the nearby island of Capri. Once there we quickly boarded another boat destined for a small alcove around the side of the island, the Blue Grotto. Here we waited as small, mini rowboats, oared by a crew of one, approached our craft to take on passengers (4 a piece). Once loaded, each of these vessels ducked through a tiny opening in the cliff wall, bringing us into a hallowed out cave beneath the cliffs. Here, in the Blue Grotto, the water is illuminated an incandescent blue color, lit so by rays of light from the sun reflecting off the sandy ocean floor under the island. It was very dark (as caves generally are), but a pretty neat sight.

Most everyone was happy to get their feet back on solid ground (counting the first ferry ride to Capri, and then the long wait for the rowboats while we were already out to sea, we'd been rocking on the water for a fairly long time). From here we boarded a tram that would take us partway up the hillside, and once at that level everyone was given time for lunch and shopping. I don't know where most of the students ate, but the adults enjoyed delicious (and authentic) Italian pizzas at a local ristorante..

Regathering after lunch, we set out to hike up to the top of Capri to tour the Villa Jovis, an immense ancient Roman palace dedicated to Jupiter. The hike was quite vigorous (Mrs. Vitt is notorius for walking very fast, but everyone kept up quite well, even the chaperones), and the view at the top absolutely spectacular!

After walking through the villa, we retured down the hillside for another brief time for shopping and gelato before boarding our final boat back to the mainland. Upon returning to Sorrento, the students were given a rare 2 hour block of free time in town before meeting the bus again. This time was spent shopping amongst excited Italians cheering on their football team in the World Cup playoffs (the game ended in a 1-1 tie). Several of the boys elected to continue watching the game in Mr. Kozel's room once we returned to the hotel before dinner.

For dinner we were given the option of pasta, ravioli, or soup, followed by a second dish of salmon, meat balls, or chicken salad. Following dessert, everyone returned to their rooms to pack, as we'll be moving on to our second hotel tomorrow. Departure is at 8:30, first stop of the day will be Mount Vesuvius.

Quotes of the day:

"Goat children, do you have your tickets yet? Children of the goat?" - Mrs. Vitt

"I'll write [a reminder note] in the dipping sauce stuff... Olive oil... It's been a long day" - Jeremy Gustafson

"Oh for cute" - Nick Kozel

Italy - Day 3

The day began wet and early (it had rained overnight) with a continental breakfast featuring slices of ham, egg, some delicious pie thing, and the kids' favorite: cereal resembling Cocoa Puffs.

We boarded the bus for departure at 8:30 and had an hour long drive to Pompeii, where we spent the majority of our day meandering along the ancient, uneven stone roads, themselves worn with grooves from ancient wheels.

During the morning hours (from 10:00 to noon) we were led by a local guide named Mario, according to Mrs. Vitt, the best guide she's ever received at Pompeii (out of 6 visits with students). With him we saw the city's two theatres, one of the bath houses, the largest mansion/house, the central forum, countless store fronts and several smaller homes, and many stray dogs (not part of the exhibit itself, of course), all sitting calmly under the ever present and watchful eye of Vesuvius.

After Mario departed we took a short break for lunch (and to rest our feet), then Mrs. Vitt continued our tour throughout the back sections of the city. We saw remnants of the Roman aqueducts, burial tombs outside the city walls, the amphiteatre, and we stopped to relax for a few minutes while Mrs. Vitt read an historical fiction story set in Pompeii (on a personal note, it just happened to be the same story that captivated and sparked my interest in Pompeii back in middle school). After filling our water bottles from a Pompeiian public fountain we left the city to be accosted by merchants selling trinkets and postcards, as well as delicious servings of gelato, of which many of us indulged.

A few minutes before boarding the bus, the sky released a rather wet downpour, which unfortunately continued long enough to prevent us from walking to Pollio Felix's house before dinner.

After a delicious double course meal of pizza / rice and fish / beef / soup, students had about 50 minutes of free time before bed checks at 10:00. Wake up call is 6:30 tomorrow morning so we can catch our 8:30 ferry to the island of Capri.

That's the news for today. I'll leave you with this quote of the day:

"If I were an olive tree I would only have been bearing fruit for 4 years." - Michelle Vitt.

"I dream about arm-wrestling large men" - Mary

Italy - Days 1 & 2

If you saw my email a few hours ago, then you know we all made it to Italy safely. We left MSP Tuesday evening and had a roughly seven hour flight to Amsterdam, followed immediately by a 2 hour flight (plus 40 minute runway taxi) to Rome. I'm not sure that any of us slept quite as much as we were hoping/expecting, but everyone arrived in good spirits (and full tummies from several airplane meals)

After landing in Rome we were met by Sergio, our tour manager for the duration of our voyage, and boarded our coach for a several hour commute to Sorrento. Along the way we passed Mount Vesuvius (no sign of smoke for now :) as well as a distant view of Capri (both of which we'll be visiting this trip).

We arrived at our hotel at 22:00 local time, enjoyed a delicious eggplant or turkey dinner (individual choice), and crashed into bed. We'll be up bright and early tomorrow morning for breakfast at 7:30; our bus leaves at 8:30 for our day at Pompeii.


I just got back from 8 days in Italy helping chaperone for a group of Minnehaha middle and high school students. The trip was lots of fun, but I'm exhausted, and it's always so nice to return home. Part of my duties during the trip included writing a daily email to the parents (using a BlackBerry that I rented), and I've decided to post those emails here, too, so you can read all about our adventures (typos and all).

Senior Chapel Talk

I gave my Senior Chapel Talk at St Olaf on Wednesday, May 7th. Word has it it was pretty good. You can listen to a streaming audio feed from St Olaf's website:

Monday, January 14, 2008

7 Days of Kindness

A "random act of kindness" - it's a household phrase, one that most everyone's experienced: when a friend, or a stranger, goes out of their way to do something nice, just for the sake of being nice, without expectation of repayment or reward.

A week ago I was sitting in a small patient/family waiting room in the Northfield hospital, getting my bimonthly intravenous infusion of Remicaid (treatment for Crohn's disease). In the same waiting room sat several other patients, also there for treatment of an incurable disease: cancer. As I listened to their conversations and stories, I thought to myself that there must be some amazing, deep insight I could gain from it. Each of these individuals had an entire lifetime's worth of experiences more than I, and on top of that they were all battling something I can scarcely imagine having to face. There was so much life-knowledge in that room, and I wanted to share in it.

I've yet to really figure out what deep lesson, if any, God had in mind for me that day. What I did find, though, was an opportunity to reach out and touch a stranger's life.

During my 2 hour infusion there was a man who would come down the hallway into the room every now and then to talk on his phone. His mother was in the hospital for a heart condition, and it didn't sound like she was doing very well. At best she'd no longer be able to live on her own, but have to move into a nursing home.

After one of his phone calls, this man and I started talking; it turns out he'd been a financial advisor to my aunt's mother years ago while she was still living on her own, so he'd known part of that side of my family. It's a small world.

As I was packing up to leave a short while later, I felt a nudge–I knew God was calling me to do something. After leaving the hospital, I returned not more than half an hour later with a 'praying for you' card for the man and his family, and had one of the nurses deliver it down to him. And this got me thinking: why not do a couple more random acts of kindness in the coming days?

Inspired by Terry Esau's 30-day "Surprise Me, God" experiment, which I tried out last March, I decided to undertake my own little faith experiment: waking up each morning and asking God for the opportunity to bless someone's life with a random act of kindness, something out of my way, above and beyond what I would normally do. Originally I was going to do a year's worth... I quickly realized a shorter period of time would be more realistic.

Thus was born my 7 Days of Kindness. Each day I woke up, said the prayer, and, in an effort to bring just a little more good into the world, tried to go out of my way to do something nice each day. It's been a fun ride, and what's been most astonishing is how faithfully God provided me the opportunities I sought, almost always multiple times in a given day. After my first couple ideas ran out though, I actually had to rely on God, and He came through, usually via email... No, God didn't email me Himself (what would His email address be? Maybe, but I did get several emails in the past week about people who were facing difficult challenges in their lives. Through these unexpected stories, God gave me the opportunity not only to pray for them, but also to send them cards, letting them know someone cares. One of the people I've never even officially met.

Similar to the journal I kept of God's surprises last year, I also kept a list this time around of everything I did, not as something to admire in itself, but as a testament to just how many opportunities we're given each day to make someone else's life just a little bit brighter.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Still Here

It's been such a long time since I wrote anything here! Yikes!

First semester finals came and went, Christmas and New Years, too, now Interim has started, and most exciting, I have red hair! That's it for now, I'll write more later this month (in all my "free time").